Thursday, 27 January 2011

Risk aversion or ban the trampoline

This week, the nursery's parents group was hijacked by the NHS.
When I say parents group, this may be a tad misleading - previously attended by me as the only parent, it has now doubled it's membership yet I still struggle to call a twosome a "group", especially considering that I'm atypical in being on maternity leave and German, and the other mum has just moved here from London and her accent indicated that she may not be British either.

In the previous meeting, because it was just me, there was no setting up of purpose of this group, so I kind of expected this now, just to know if this is actually something useful for me and worthwhile going to. It may help with getting more parents involved too if they know what the group is for.

Instead, this is how the meeting went: Two ladies from the NHS were introduced who then went on to tell us that they had become aware of the dangers of trampolines and they were designing a campaign to raise awareness of this danger and if we could help them with ideas how to best promote safe usage of trampolines. We did this and that was the end of the meeting

Bewildered? Well, I was. For three reasons:
a) this is not what I came for and I felt I wasted a good hour to do someone else's job (it's not rocket science to figure out how to raise awareness of specific risks amongst parents) and I also felt the NHS was wasting staff time on something that really didn't need parental engagement.
b) I felt cheated because there wasn't even a pro forma question if us parents wanted to discuss anything - so the NHS got their tick of the box out of it, the nursery too, but the parents didn't.
c) I pondered about the ridiculous risk aversion of our society.

I don't really want to go into a) and b) because it's too blooming obvious what I'm on about and I will raise this with the nursery.
So risk averse society. Apparently, over the summer months, 100 children were admitted to hospital due to accidents involving a trampoline. None of these accidents were more serious than broken bones. The accidents were described as "avoidable". Apparently, there are people propagating the ban of trampolines. Now, I do understand this point of view - trampolines do carry the risk of accidental injury, on occasions this may even be severe.
However, so does playing football, climbing a tree, swimming, cycling, horse riding. In fact, any physical activity carries the risk of accidental injury by the very nature of it. Does this mean a ban would be a good idea?

Or should we not accept that life is risky and usually ends in death, assess risks in a sensible manner and manage the risks instead of avoiding them altogether?
I'd rather have a child with a broken bone than one who ends up obese, with type 2 diabetes and dies of a heart attack at 60. It's also about the actual frequency of accidents - 100 doesn't sound a lot to me considering the population of Greater Glasgow, how does it compare in relation to hours spent on it with other higher risk activities?

And as to the suggested guidelines for using a trampoline safely - I don't think they are realistic. Asking for constant parental supervision is just not going to happen, or to only let one child on at a time just defeats the fun of bouncing on a trampoline. You could just as well not have one.

So, in my view, either ban trampolines or accept there will be accidents which may be much outweighed by the health benefits of trampolines.



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